Digital cartography of international design

Today we show you the first result of the Digital cartography of international design project, developed using digital methods of research. This first exploration provides a general insight into the world of design, showing related actors and issues emerging from the research on the web.

The generic query “design” on google.com produces 26 valid results out of the first 50. These selected results come from well founded sources and highlight different issues and themes related to design, providing a categorical description of design through entries in menus, tags and sections in the websites. The sources are mostly blogs, design firms, portals, communities and ezines, while the number of universities, non-profit organizations and museums is limited. In particular the first results for universities and design firms are after the 20th position in the ranking on google.com.


A first network graph was built to visualize the links among actors (URLS) and issues classified in macro categories, and among issues and related subjects. Actors’nodes are displayed in different colors according to the type of the source.

A streamlined version of the previous network shows the connections among categories, subjects and types of sources.

Extending the research to the first 100 results, we can see that the total amount of valid links it’s only the 59%, mostly universities, design firms, communities and ezines. Statistics on the collected data highlight a significant increase of universities’ websites from the 50th to the 100th result on google.com.

A third graph visualizes all the connections amongs actors, issues and related subjects obtained from the first 100 results. The biggest node is “communication design”, a macro category which includes different subjects, from print design to packaging design, while the most numerous and relevant actors are universities.

The next step of the project will consist in proceeding with further queries based on the identified categories in order to obtain a deeper description of the world of design. A crawl and a semantic analysis of the the selected links will be made with the aim to build a network of relevant actors and significant concepts describing the design world in its different declinations.

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